I’m slowly revealing my inner English grandmother persona as I confess to watching episodes of Poirot while sipping a cup of tea in the evenings. When the latest onscreen iteration of Murder on the Orient Express (directed and starring Kenneth Branagh) released its alternately impressive and derided trailer earlier this month, I was lead to the well-regarded TV series featuring David Suchet as the famous literary detective. With his particular mannerisms, dainty moustache, and distinctive accent, Hercule Poirot has a certain cosy quality about him, as do the old-fashioned, excellent stories of Agatha Christie, and the show makes for welcome, low-key evening entertainment. Each episode is an hour and a half of slightly drowsy, very British murder mystery-solving with the brilliant Suchet working his talents via lip-pursing and waddling. It is quite endearing and addictive to watch.
Most of my reading is dictated by my students’ reading material for homework and Franz Kafka’s well-known novella about a man who wakes up transformed into a beetle is a perfectly existentialist little stunner I was obligated to read. Simple, absurd, and profoundly tragic, Gregor Samsa’s pathetic life as a travelling salesman is suddenly replaced with one of a detestable insect and builds slowly toward an undignified end. Kafka’s metaphor for modern life continues in his other stories as well, such as the fable-like “Before the Law” short story, and led to the coining of the wonderfully bleak term “Kafkaesque”.
Yes, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has already come out and I even write a review on the film, but the soundtrack for the first film is still the better. It’s catchier, has more classics (that I, a child of the ‘90s, am familiar with), and lends itself well towards the path of discovery for some of my favourite artists and genres. Motown hits feature heavily, with tracks by The Jackson 5 and Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and the inimitable David Bowie shows up with “Moonage Daydream.” Unfortunately, I’ve heard “The Piña Colada Song” one too many times at this point, although it is still undeniably a great summer song.
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